Just call me Mama.

I think everyone can say that spaghetti and meatballs are comfort food.  Or maybe I’m just assuming this because I great up in an Italian family.  The kind family where when asked in school, “What is your family’s traditional dish at Christmas (Easter, Thanksgiving) ?”  I yelled, “LASAGNA!”
So it’s no wonder that I’m a big meatball fan. And likewise, I’m a huge cheese fan.  Who isn’t?  Will you believe me when I say that this recipe…
Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs (adapted from Rachael Ray’s Caprese-Stuffed Meatballs with Tomato-Pesto Sauce)
You will need:
  • 4 slices of bread
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 pounds of meat.  I used a ground beef, veal and pork mix.
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • a handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a container of bocconcini
1.) Preheat oven to 425°. Tear bread up and bread and milk and make sure all of the bread absorbs the milk.  Set aside.
2.) Combine meat, garlic, parsley, egg, salt and pepper, and my favorite….a handful of cheese.
This is one of the many reasons why I love Rachael Ray.  Her recipes include measurements like “a handful”.
3.) Squeeze as much of the milk out of the bread as possible.  Combine ingredients.  You might want to take your rings off for this one :)
4.)  And now for the star of the show!
Separate meat into 16 pieces.  Make the pieces into a ball with a well in the middle.  Put a piece of bocconcini in the well.  Form the meat around the bocconcini with your hands until it is completely covered.  Place meatballs on a baking sheet, separating evenly.
5.) Drizzle meatballs with olive oil or as Rach would say, EVOO.  Cook for 15-18 minutes.
The rest is up to you!  The original recipe called for a pesto/tomato sauce  combo but I decided to just use my Mom’s homemade  marinara sauce.
I served the meatballs over spaghetti with a tossed salad and garlic bread. What kind of Italian would I be if I didn’t go with this combo?
Melted mozzarella cheese inside a meatball?  Oh yes.
Just try to make these meatballs and not say, “Mama Mia!”

Dinner…in a grocery store?

I remember being in the grocery store with my Mom when I was very young and somehow I’d always end up with food.  Sometimes my Mom would hand us a slice of cheese after she bought some from the deli counter or hand us a box of crackers she had to break open and buy later because, “We’re hungry!”
So really, the concept of eating in a grocery store isn’t all that odd to me.  But ah, this type of eating is soo much better than sort of stealing groceries than paying for them later.
I know Wegmans is a northeast thing.  I wish I could take you all there.  It’s  like Whole Foods, but a lot less expensive and as equally, if not more, amazing.  It’s the type of grocery store that makes everything so darn aesthetically appealing.
The Pub is located right in the grocery store.  And I would love to say we were just hungry while grocery shopping but we actually planned to go.
Their specials are amazing.  Jay’s beer was only $2!  And every day they have different deals.  Like on Tuesdays they have a flight of cheese and a glass of wine for $10!
I had a delicious blueberry beer.  I think this may be my favorite beer…ever!
There were so many decisions to be made! I decided to start with a shrimp cocktail.  But not any shrimp cocktail…it was sliced up for you, mixed with cocktail sauce and topped with crab meat.
For my entrée I had sea scallops with field greens.  The scallops were the perfect texture – firm and crispy on the outside.
Jay had baked chicken fingers with fresh-cut fries.
We thought the Pub was great!  Delicious food, inviting and open restaurant space and great service.
Oh, and uhhh… no tipping?  When we paid with a credit card there wasn’t even a place for a tip!  We actually felt kind of uncomfortable about this so we left a little tip.  I’m a server what do you expect?!
I’m a fan of this concept and I’d definitely go back.  Just don’t judge me if you see me walking through the grocery store with a slice of cheese in hand.
One more thing!  We spotted these later that night while getting some fro yo.

Bobby knows what’s up.

You can’t deny that Bobby Flay is the man.  He’s a great chef, iron chef, griller and he knows how to throw it down!  And I don’t know about you, but he seems like he’d be a pretty cool guy to hang out with.
Bobby has several high end restaurants but he also has Bobby’s Burger Palace, aka heaven or BBP.  And, you guessed it, Jay and I ventured out to the Philadelphia location in this below freezing weather to check it out.
The feel of the restaurant is very relaxed.  You walk in, get in line, check out the menu ( or if you’re like me you check it out online contemplate for a week), place your order where you pay and get a number.  Then, you sit down with your number visible and wait!
The menu includes creative burger choices and you also have the option of getting a veggie burger, turkey burger, or chicken.  Sides include fresh cut french fries, sweet potato fries and onion rings.  You could also get a salad or grilled cheese but that would kind of defeat the purpose.  And as far as drinks go, you can get  spiked  milkshakes, beer, wine, margaritas and fountain soda.
After we placed our order and paid we patiently waited.
In case you were wondering about the cost, it wasn’t bad at all!
Can’t beat going out to dinner in the city for under $30.
The seating is pretty unique.  There was one long table where we sat and you sit on swivel chairs.  It was interesting because people would just come and sit next to you.  There was also smaller tables and a bar style seating area.
I had a glass of vino.
Jay had a beer.
There was  an array of different sauces that you could try with your meal.
I had the Philly burger which included either provolone or cheese whiz (I got American instead) fried onions and hot peppers.
Oh and how could I forget to mention this?!
You can “crunchify” any sandwich, which means add chips to it.  I had to.
Jay had a chicken sandwich with American cheese, bacon and he also crunchified his sandwich.
We also had some fresh cut fries that was served with a zesty dipping sauce.
So what can y about BBP? Amazing.  A very great concept with solid good food.  My sandwich was juicy, cheesy and flavorful.  I don’t eat burgers that often but when I do, it better be good.  And this burger exceeded my expectations.  I recommend checking this place out at one of their 5 locations if you get the chance!
Now I just wonder if Bobby would be up for a BBP throwdown…

Why I should be a POM Wonderful Spokesgirl

Dear POM,
In case you weren’t aware, have a love/love relationship with pomegranates.  I’m a huge advocate for POM and not only love the flavor of pomegranates and POM juice, but the health benefits.  Ask any of my friends or family and they will agree because I’m always talking about them :)
I’m pretty passionate about pomegranates so why not be the spokesgirl?  Want to know why?  Well, let me count the ways…
1.) Back in the fall I entered to host a POM dinner party.  I was 1 of 100 people that held a POM party across the country.  My guests were treated to an amazing dinner and I taught them how to open a pomegranate as well as how healthy the wonder fruit is.  Check it out here.
2.)  In my post entry I added a few photos of Sandy playing with a pomegranate.  A few weeks later she was featured on the POM site along with a cute cat for a POM cat vs. POM dog battle! Check it out here.
3.) As a thank you for hosting a POM party I was sent a lovely umbrella that I’ve been sporting ever since.
4.)  A few days before Christmas POM asked Facebook followers to write a holiday poem!  To show my POM holiday spirit I wrote a poem! Want to read it?
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was hungry, not even a mouse. The stockings were filled, with POMs galore, as the children were dreaming and hoping for more. The arils were juicy, the POM juice just right, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
No one ever said I wasn’t corny!  But the good news is… POM sent me a case of juice!  Corniness never tasted so good.
I’m pretty serious about my POM Wonderful.  And if I can’t be a POM spokesgirl?  How about a job? :)

Panzanella salad

It’s hard for a foodie to attend a party or gathering and not bring some kind of food.  It  just doesn’t feel right!  No one necessarily expects you to bring something but you know they’re all wondering what you’ll show up with.  And let’s be  honest, it is more polite to come with something in your hands :)
I decided to make this panzanella salad to bring to my Aunt’s Christmas brunch.  I contemplated bringing some kind of dessert but changed my mind as soon as I saw this recipe.
I think it is a perfect dish for brunch… fresh, crispy, refreshing and delicious.
You will need:
•1 loaf of ciabatta bread
•2 TBS olive  oil, 1/2 cup olive oil
•1 cucumber
•1/4 cup red onion
•1 green pepper
•1 red pepper
•1 cup tomatoes
•1 8 oz. container of bocconcini
•1/4 cup fresh basil
•1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
•salt and pepper to taste
•1/2 tsp garlic powder
Preheat oven to 350°
1.) Begin by slicing ciabatta into cubed pieces.
2.) Put cubed bread on a baking sheet, coat with 2 TBS olive oil and salt and pepper.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Let cool when finished baking.
3.) Chop veggies into cubed pieces.
You can leave seeds of cucumbers or remove them.  I decided to remove the seeds so that it wasn’t soggy.
Cut bocconcini in half.

Combine veggies, bocconcini, salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, basil and garlic powder.

4.) Combine bread and veggies and enjoy!
I was traveling with this dish so  I put the bread in a bag and the veggies in a bowl until right before serving so the salad did not become soggy.

I loved this dish and so did everyone else!  And not only is it delicious but isn’t panzanella so fun to say!?!!

Twas two weeks after Christmas.

The last holiday celebration has come and gone.  I know what you’re thinking…that’s crazy!  Well yes, yes it is.  You see, my Aunt had planned a Christmas brunch for the day after Christmas but mother nature wasn’t having any of that.  Instead, it decided to snow.  So we rescheduled :)
And thank goodness we did because my family sure knows how to throw a great brunch !
Started off with a variety of cheeses.
Tea for some.
And coffee for others.  My Aunt gave me a demonstration on how to use a french press and mmm! I can see one of these in my future.  I felt like the flavor was much more bold and full.
Fresh bagels.
A little bubbly!  Hello mimosas.
Homemade monkey bread. Oh yes.  This was amazing.  My Aunt said it was pretty time consuming but I definitely need the recipe.
I contributed a panzanella salad.  I will be sharing the recipe soon!
Fresh fruit.  Can you spot the brother?
Egg stratta!  You can find the recipe here!
A taste of eggplant.
And then we moved on to dessert!
Key lime pie.
Sugar cookies.
Peppermint bark.
It was great to get together with my family as always!  And now…we  can officially say the holiday celebrating has ended.  Time for Valentine’s Day, and spring and my birthday… :)

Okay Carrot Soup.

As winter continues on…and on and on (I’m beginning to  think it will never end!) I’m always on the lookout for creative ways to eat winter veggies.  Oh how I miss ripe Jersey tomatoes!  Sure, the grocery store carries a wide variety of vegetables all year round but everyone knows that they are usually pretty flavorless when they aren’t in season locally.
So I went on a hunt for a good carrot soup.
You will need:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.) Melt butter in a saucepan.  Add onion and garlic and saute until softened.
2.) Add apple and carrots and saute for about 2 minutes.
3.) Add wine, stock and cumin.
Ok, so fortunately I had some white wine around.  The night before  I made this soup I went out to dinner to a BYOB and had  left some wine in the bottle.  It just so happened that there was exactly one cup of wine left!
Coincidence?  I think not.
4.) Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until all components are cooked and soft.  Remove from heat and blend until smooth.
5.) Serve and enjoy!
So what did I think of this soup? Ok, so I’m going to be honest.  I didn’t really like it :?  I’m pretty sure this  is the first time in awhile that I cooked something and didn’t like it.  I usually like pretty much anything so this was surprising.  I think if I could change something I’d omit the cumin because it was too strong.
I was debating on whether or not to share this recipe if I didn’t really like it but I figured that maybe someone else would so why not!
The search for fun ways to eat winter veggies continues!…